Problems and Purpose
Background History and Context
The 17-year long civil war in Mozambique that started in 1977, left a significant number of refugees, and was primarily fought in ordinary rural villages in the country (Gell, 2010). As a result of the violence, thousands of people fled to coastal areas and islands in Mozambique (Gell, 2010). More than 40% of the population in Mozambique now live in coastal districts, which is increasing the rate of exploitation of resources (Gell, 2010). Due to the depletion of fish stocks neat their own homes, thousands of fishers migrate to the Quirimbas islands during the dry season for three to six months (Gell, 2010). The predominant fishing methods used are seine netting and woven bamboo fish traps in seagrass beds, coral reefs and the mangroves (Gell, 2010). The civil war left Mozambique with demolished infrastructure and facilities, and in need of renewed coastal zone management programs (Gell, 2010). With an increased number of displaced people in coastal areas because of the civil war, there has been an increase in the amount of people who rely in subsistence fishing (Gell, 2010). This is oftentimes the only source of both employment and food for refugees (Gell, 2010). The surge of coastal residents has added growing pressure to artisanal fisheries since there has been no attempt at developing the local fishing industry (Gell, 2010).
Meldrum (1991) notes that on Mozambique’s Inhaca Island a large influx of refugees from the mainland threaten the island’s tropical environment. The island’s indigenous population have a long history of living in harmony with the environment, in ways that did not ruin the island’s natural environment (Meldrum, 1991). The people of Inhaca lived in equilibrium with the environment and considered themselves to be linked to the natural resources of the island (Meldrum, 1991). However, the civil war caused a massive population density that is comparable to an urban level, and a refugee population that is exasperating deforestation, land degradation, and the depletion of the island’s fish beds (Meldrum, 1991). This is a result of the contrast in worldviews of the refugees who do not adopt the same traditional environmental customs as the indigenous population (Meldrum, 1991). Particularly, the refugees are reliant on fish and mollusks for food, but overfish the island’s shorelines threatening the island’s natural environment (Meldrum, 1991). Many of the older women who lived through the political and economic instability of the civil war periods are illiterate, but have had time to acquire resources such as fishing nets, houses, and farmland to generate income (Wosu, 2018).
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Methods and Tools Used
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
Women are primarily excluded from seagrass seine net and trap fisheries, and instead process the fish from the net to the fisheries (Gell, 2010). Other responsibilities women have include carrying and filling water barrels and laborious agricultural work (Gell, 2010). Men allege the weakness of women and their inability to swim for their exclusion in similar fishing activities, and women also considered it unacceptable to engage in trap or net fishing (Gell, 2010). For catching fin fish, women have limited options and are restricted to catching fish that have been trapped in tide pools, they could empty their family’s fence trap, or use their capulana (patterned cotton sarong worn by local women) to catch small fish (Gell, 2010).
Octopus fishing is an important social activity since all the women and children depart together to go fishing (Hill, 2005). It is primarily done by women and children at low spring tides and is an important source of household income (Hill, 2005). For some women, octopus fishing is a last resort source of income, because the money that the men earn can be spent on alcohol, second households, or new clothes for themselves (Hill, 2005). Wosu (2018), also note that octopus is more than a source of consumption and income for women, but also an item that they can use for gift and exchange relations. For example, octopus can be used to repay favours such as excursions to the mainland, they can be exchanged for oil, salt, or firewood, or given as gifts to extended family who are experiencing hardship (Wosu, 2018). These exchanges allow women a degree of social and freedom and strengthen their social relations to other local women, allowing them access to other resources in the future (Wosu, 2018).
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Renn and Weirowski (2010) advocate for the development of aquaculture in refugee settlements across Africa. Particularly, fish farming is encouraged to secure food and monetary income for refugee women and their families (Renn & Weirowski, 2010). For example, ponds placed near their homes provide a safe and practical way for women and young girls to generate income and food (Renn & Weirowski, 2010).
Analysis and Lessons Learned
Gell, F. R. (2010). The price of fish and the value of seagrass beds: Socioeconomic aspects of the seagrass fishery on quirimba island, mozambique. In A handbook of environmental management. Edward Elgar.
Hill, Nicholas Anthony Owen. “Livelihoods in an Artisanal Fishing Community and the Effect of Ecotourism.”
Meldrum, Andrew. 1991. “The Trouble with Paradise.” Africa Report 36(5): 18–20.
Renn, S., & Weirowski, F. (2010). Guidelines for fish production in long term refugee situations in africa. In The WorldFish Centre. The WorldFish Centre. https://digitalarchive.worldfishcenter.org/bitstream/handle/20.500.12348/1152/WF_2831.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Wosu, Adaoma Carolyn Laura. 2018. “Social-Ecological Dynamics of Fisherwomen’s Behaviour in Northern Mozambique.” https://era.ed.ac.uk/handle/1842/31249 (February 5, 2023).